Novak Djokovic digs in to defeat Alexander Zverev in straight sets as world No 1 sets up semi-final meeting against Dominic Thiem with ATP Finals at O2 Arena heating up
- Novak Djokovic secured the final semi-final spot in this year’s ATP Finals
- The world No 1 overcame 2018 champion Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 on Friday
- Djokovic faces US Open champion Dominic Thiem for a spot in the final
- Rafael Nadal will take on Daniil Medvedev in the other semi-final on Saturday
Alex Zverev retreated into the comforting obscurity of the off-season on Friday night maintaining he still retains the support of his peers in the locker room.
A troubled month — in which Zverev has been the subject of domestic violence allegations by an ex-girlfriend — came to an end when he was knocked out out of London’s ATP Finals by Novak Djokovic.
The top four players in the men’s game will face each other for the final weekend of this disrupted season, with the controversy around the 23-year-old German temporarily abated.
Novak Djokovic held his own as he reached the last four of the ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena
Alexander Zverev was beaten 6-3, 7-6 on Friday as Djokovic held his own to reach the last four
Zverev has been the subject of domestic violence allegations by an ex-girlfriend this month
Zverev departed — beaten 6-4, 7-6 by Djokovic — with the insistence that he has the backing of colleagues as he continues to deny accusations by ex-partner Olga Sharypova.
‘The other players are all fine to me,’ he said. ‘I mean, the relationship between me and the players won’t change. The players know what’s going on.’
Djokovic appeared to back this up. He described Zverev as a ‘very nice guy’, stressing that he had no knowledge of what may have happened relating to as yet unproven allegations and that he is naturally against any violence.
‘I have not noticed that he has been treated differently from the locker room,’ said the Serb.
Zverev departed London with the insistence that he has the backing of fellow players
‘At least in my case, I’ve always had a very good relationship with him.
‘I sincerely wish for him that he overcomes this soon and that he can focus on his life and tennis career.’
Djokovic did agree that the ATP Tour may need a firm policy to deal with instances when a player is accused of domestic violence.
‘I have not heard (before) that we had maybe top players involved in such instances. So maybe that kind of case will in a way inspire the ATP to do something like that,’ he suggested.
Djokovic was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the group stage but he remains in title contention
The Zverev issue is a turbulent chapter in a season of turmoil — which will end predictably enough with the best four players facing off.
On Saturday afternoon, Djokovic takes on world No 3 Dominic Thiem, while the evening semi-final will feature world No 2 Rafael Nadal against No 4 Daniil Medvedev.
Faced with a sudden eliminator on Friday, Djokovic was far more purposeful against Zverev than he had been in his limp group-match loss to Medvedev.
Dominic Thiem, who won this year’s US Open, now stands between Djokovic and the final
He was often second-best after taking the first set, but relied on his ability to play the bigger points better.
The man who will perhaps be most motivated this weekend is Nadal, who has never won this title at a time of year when his body is usually giving way after the stresses of a long season.
On Saturday, Britain’s Joe Salisbury partners Rajeev Ram in the doubles semi-final against Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jurgen Melzer.